“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan
Nutrition can be quite confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. Focus on eating a wide variety of whole plant foods and don’t worry about being perfect. The latter advice is key, especially when transitioning from a processed food- or animal product-laden diet to a more health-promoting, plant-based diet--keep yourself successful by celebrating your journey and your progress rather than your perfection. Just as Dr. Henry Emmons recommends to acknowledge your moments of happiness amplify your joy, I can strongly attest to that same principle applying towards acknowledging your feelings of success and pride in your progress.
I believe knowledge is empowerment, and that is no less true for nutrition. Let’s briefly dive into the what and why behind eating plants and provide you with the best scientific resources to make you feel confident on your journey to eating...
“Life is short. Stay awake for it.” Caribou Coffee nailed it with that promotional tagline. It’s funny, memorable and a widely shared sentiment. If we want to get the most out of life, if we don’t want to miss anything, caffeine offers a safe, legal and increasingly pleasurable way to feel more enlivened.
I have nothing against caffeine. In fact, I personally love it. I’ve given it up several times over my life, thinking it might have negative health effects on me. But each time I’ve come back to it, finally accepting that I just plain enjoy it. I like the effect it has on me, the flavor, the ritual and the communal nature of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.
I believe that the research on the health effects from caffeine come out mostly on the side of it having an overall positive impact on health. It’s a legal stimulant. It can temporarily improve energy, focus, even mood. So long as it is not used in excess, it...
Can that one hour spring forward in March really impact sleep? Yes!
Sleep is finicky. It likes a schedule. And Daylight Saving Time (DST) throws it off. Some folks can recover quickly from the one hour shift, but others may feel exhausted and "off" for many days after the time change. The latter is what we call the DST hangover.
If you're looking for a cure, try this simple schedule change to help you spring forward and meet the week in better shape.
p.s. This is also a great schedule change to use with kids. The more gradual change in bedtime and wake time should make their transition easier (aka less crankiness).
This schedule change is pretty simple. Here's the plan:
Go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier than you usually do on the Thursday night before DST. Then, get up 15 minutes earlier than you usually do the next morning (Friday). Follow that with a Friday night bedtime 10-15 minutes earlier than...
This video explores the scientific secret sauce to living a full and more healthy life. And believe it or not, it only takes eight minutes a day using this shiny, super-expensive, brand new fitness and diet fad... oh wait, nope. The secret sauce is... compassion?! Watch the video to learn more about the power of compassion and how you can put it into practice.
Dr. Emmons and his meditating avocado have a simple, joy-boosting meditation you can practice anywhere. Use this Sympathetic Joy Meditation to let some sweetness in when you're feeling sour or salty.
Why does this kind of meditation work? Learn more about the science of compassion in this video blog.
Hooray! It's National Puzzle Day!
Press the play button on the video above to try the Affirmation Scramble. There are four affirmations to solve and they move pretty fast. Press play again [and again] until you have all four solved.
Puzzles can help calm stress, improve focus, and boost mood. How?
Here's one reason: Successfully completing a puzzle requires single tasking (vs. multitasking). Single tasking means that one task is focused on and completed at a time. Single tasking is soothing for the brain and body, whereas chronic multitasking can elevate cortisol and decrease mental sharpness and memory.
Want more single tasking in your life? Try our Single Task Challenge!
Hemp, Marijuana, CBD, and THC... what's the difference? Can any of them help with anxiety? Depression? Do they make you high? Learn the basics below so that you can decide if any are right for you.
A Trip Down Memory Lane: Hemp, Marijuana, CBD, and THC
Cannabis is thought to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses. These sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils, and textiles. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.
Other varieties of the cannabis plant were identified as psychoactive (causing euphoria or the “high” experience) and were bred selectively for medical, recreational, and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that now known as marijuana.
While hemp and marijuana are both...
I’ll assume you’ve had a head cold before. Those viral upper respiratory infections (URI) bring the usual symptoms of fever, stuffy nose, and scratchy throat. However, have you also noticed that you feel crabby, unmotivated, foggy, or restless at night?
The culprit? Neuroinflammation. Yes, a head cold = a hot head (and a bad mood).
Here’s how it works: Viral infections like a cold (caused by viruses like rhinovirus) or flu (caused by the influenza virus) are foreign invaders to the immune system. The immune system works as a “defense and repair” mechanism and is closely linked to your neurological and psychological systems. When those bug invaders enter, your immune system revs up to defend. This activation can cue the process of inflammation to occur in your body and brain. An inflamed brain (neuroinflammation) can contribute to a depressed mood and brain fog (i.e., mental fatigue, lack of clarity, poor concentration,...
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.”
-Anthelme Brillat Savarin, 1826
As far back as 1826, Savarin knew “we are what we eat,” and– more specifically– who we become. Functionally speaking, “food is information.”
Foods contain nutrients which provide directions to the systems of the body about how they will function, creating either positive or negative consequences. The nutrients we consume send messages to the brain and body about how it is going to behave. When we think of “food as information,” the focus becomes foods to include rather than foods to exclude.
The body and the mind are a connected, collaborative, community of interdependent systems. For example:
Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the United States has risen over the last four decades. Two recent studies (one in Pediatrics and the other in JAMA Pediatrics) found that rates continue to grow, reporting that about 1 in every 40 children are diagnosed with ASD.
Why are so many more kids being diagnosed with ASD? Two key possibilities:
Another big problem: 30% of children with ASD are not receiving appropriate treatments. Treatments for ASD include medications,...
The NMH newsletter goes out twice monthly. You'll receive helpful tips, resources, and special offers to optimize your mental health and create more joy, calm, and focus in your life.